A Houthi official has denied his group’s affiliation with Iran during a meeting with a delegation from the International Crisis Group, which announced it is making efforts to reduce tensions in Yemen.
Mehdi Al-Mashat’s remarks were reported by the Houthi-controlled Yemen News Agency (Saba).
Al-Mashat, who heads the Houthi group’s Supreme Political Council (SPC), on Tuesday met with the president of the International Crisis Group, Robert Malley, in Sanaa .
“The allegations about the group’s affiliation with Iran are flimsy, and those who make them know they are false,” Al-Mashat said, according to Saba.
Referring to the Saudi-led military coalition that has been attacking Houthi targets in Yemen since 2015, Al-Mashat said that the problem “is not the alleged affiliation [with Iran], but that we are affiliated with no one.”
Yemen slid into political crisis after the Houthis, an armed Shia group, forcefully seized power in 2014. The Houthis are widely believed to be backed by Iran, a regional power that rivals Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia. Following the Houthi takeover of the Yemeni government, Riyadh formed a military coalition to support the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, which was ousted by the Houthis from Sanaa. Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been killed in the conflict and millions are on the brink of famine, in what the UN has described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.